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Toilets’ water tanks confirmed to have caused norovirus in Pyeongchang

Toilets’ water tanks confirmed to have caused norovirus in Pyeongchang

Posted March. 19, 2018 07:45,   

Updated March. 19, 2018 07:45


South Korea’s public health authorities have confirmed that the “water tanks of portable toilets” were the reason behind an outbreak of norovirus at the host city of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that affected around 300 security personnel for the event last month.

The authorities announced Sunday that the water tanks of mobile toilets were what caused the norovirus infection as a result of its epidemiological investigation of Horeb Youth Camp Center and other related facilities. According to the investigation, the genotype of the virus detected in water tanks was matched with those of patients. There had been around 570 portable lavatories set up during the Olympic period and ironically, water used to wash hands or brush teeth before leaving a toilet for the sake of hygiene was the culprit of infection.

Water tanks had contained underground water from the Gangwon region. It is likely that the toilets’ water tanks and septic tanks had not been properly separated, according to the authorities. Norovirus is usually spread through water contaminated with the feces of the infected.

Upon confirmation of the cause, the authorities cleaned up and sterilized all water tanks, and replaced five aged toilets. Since such actions were taken, only six persons have tested positive for norovirus during the PyeongChang Paralympics, nearly the lest number of infections ever reported during the Paralympic period.

Irrelevant to the lodgings of security personnel, another reason behind infection was nearby restaurants. Twelve female police officers at the squad of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency who stayed at Gangneung Youngdong University were confirmed to have shown the symptoms of norovirus after eating sweet and sour Korean chicken and buckwheat noodles at a famous nearby restaurant. Also, four Swiss athletes reportedly had the symptoms after eating slices of raw trout at a restaurant in the vicinity. The number of total infections since Feb. 2 was 324, according to the joint countermeasures headquarters.

Jin-Han Lee likeday@donga.com · Gun-Hee Cho becom@donga.com